Dylan Walker and Aaron Gray are expected to make a full recovery from their overdose of painkillers, amid growing calls for the NRL to address the problem of the misuse of prescription medicine within rugby league.
The condition of South Sydney duo Walker and Gray has improved considerably since they were rushed to St Vincent’s hospital on Tuesday morning.
After both players were admitted to the hospital in a critical condition, the Rabbitohs said on Wednesday that has since been updated to good.
The pair could leave hospital by the end of the week.
“The health statuses of its players, Dylan Walker and Aaron Gray, have improved from stable to good overnight,” Souths said in a club statement on Wednesday.
“Both players are now communicating freely with family and medical professionals.”
But the incident has only served to brighten the spotlight on one of rugby league’s biggest, but quietly kept problems.
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy said he now expected the NRL to fully investigate the alleged misuse of prescription drugs in the game.
And Roosters coach Trent Robinson said a wider discussion about the use of the drugs needed to be had.
“I know it is a big issue in the game, the articles that were written today … they are right, they need to be written and they need to be discussed,” Robinson said
“But let’s worry about Aaron and Dylan at the moment and then we need to get on with those issues.
“I have seen in the past that it can become a problem. It is not a pretty side because it is not an illegal side when it comes to some uses of it.
“I have seen it from overseas when Australians in general go overseas and people from overseas are shocked by the use or prescription drugs (in Australia).
“So don’t point the finger at a sport, again it is a nationwide issue that we need to combat. We have to make sure that we take our lesson.
“The NRL is testing for it. But there needs to be a solution outside rugby league not just within.”
Rabbitohs boss John Lee said some level of personal responsibility needed to be undertaken by players and administrators.
“Unfortunately for Australia, whenever anything goes wrong we all call upon government to come up with a new law or we ask the NRL to have a new rule or to amend a rule,” Lee told Sky Sports Radio.
“But ultimately, people have to look at themselves in the mirror especially if you’re an athlete, or you’re an administrator or you’re a coach and say to yourself `am I doing the best thing for myself’?”
“There needs to be nearly a national conversation about how we’re dealing with different sorts of pains and pressures and what happens in sport.
“I think we’ve got to get real data, we’ve got to get the athletes involved with the professionals and debate what is the problem.”
Both the police and the NRL Integrity Unit are investigating the incident.